PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) model for organic agriculture in Hoi An

Located 4 km east of Hoi An ancient town, Thanh Dong organic vegetable garden in Cam Thanh commune is the first organic agriculture in the Central region. The garden is established in November 2013 in a new rural development project of Cam Thanh commune with the support of the Action Center for City Development (ACCD), a project on the first organic farming model in Hoi An under the national New Rural Development program.

With the consultation of PGS Vietnam, April 2014, in parallel with the organization training organic farming knowledge for farmers in Thanh Dong commune by trainers of PGS Vietnam organized by ACCD Associated with the Economic Department of Hoi An, a PGS model is designed with specific organizational structure and operating regulations. Hoi An’s provisional PGS coordinating committee was found at this time. The vegetable garden at that time had a total area of 6368 square meters, produced by 8 farmer households as a pilot model. In order to obtain a market share in the  Hoi An vegetable market, farmers here have undergone a long period of cognitive transformation to stay with organic agriculture until today. Thanh Dong Vegetable Garden, after 5 years of operation, has become a place to provide healthy vegetables, a learning spot for students and students at all levels and also a tourist destination for those who want to learn or explore about organic agriculture.

Since its establishment, PGS Hoi An has developed organic agriculture based on the PGS Vietnam standards recognized by IFOAM to provide technical guidance to farmers and serve as a basis for compliance assessment. Land and water sources in the area selected as the model were tested. After being selected, the farmers stopped all production activities on the entire area for 6 months and then planted green beans and black beans as green manure crops. When the beans flower, all of the biomass was buried in the soil for microorganisms to decompose before farmers began planting organic vegetables. It is often said that it is difficult to change a habit. But for farmers over 40 years of conventional agriculture now giving up on organic farming is a huge challenge and it takes time to struggle with themselves. Just over 1 year, the idea of building an organic production model started, and after 6 months when farmers were trained in organic farming techniques, establishing PGS, the land here was changed by the efforts of farmers and all stakeholders in the fledgling PGS Hoi An system.

Previously, in the production season, farmers mainly planted corn and peanuts and in the rainy season, farmers only knew the sky, the main crop was only sweet vegetables, a healthy vegetable that could withstand the rain. But up to now, there are at least more than 30 different types of vegetables in the field including leafy vegetables, fruits and spices that farmers had never thought before that it could be grown here especially in the rainy season. Instead of the field, the person who finishes his work is going home, but now, the most meaningful thing is sharing the responsibilities and experience of production in the field and also during group activities after working hours. fig. The relationship between the members of the farmer group becomes closer and closer, and in particular the sense of responsibility of the members is clearly defined for each product they make when it is released. to the market, to the table of consumers with the trademark of PGS Hoi An

Not all work is easy and smooth, especially switching from chemical-dependent production to naturally favorable organic production, with all inputs under PGS regulations in the context of changing weather. irregular. Mr. Pham Meo, the leader of the group, shared: “When gardening was very difficult, the weather was harsh, with heavy rain and wind, organic agricultural techniques have not been able to catch up, facilities are lacking and capital is still limited. We also concern about the future, whether our production is stable or not.”

Mrs. Huynh Tu, a member of the group shared, “Every day when I don’t go to the field, I feel like I lack something”. It is a huge change in every farmer participating in PGS here. Remembering in the early days of joining, the first participant who learned about production techniques and PGS and then applied it to production was her husband. But because his health did not allow it, she had to replace him to directly participate in the production. She has always actively learned and learned about farming standards and methods in organic agricultural production. Plus the other members’ enthusiasm to share and help, the result is that her vegetable field is always diverse and lush.

The difficulty is that, but with the efforts of farmers and the full support of the city’s economic department, especially the Coordination Committee of PGS Hoi An, Thanh Dong organic vegetable garden has been a vegetable supplier. clean, safe vegetables for city residents. This place has become a tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists and is a place that regularly organizes extracurricular activities for children to learn about organic agriculture. Students, and descendants of the group members’ families also regularly participate in growing vegetables and assist the harvesters to sell.

A very characteristic feature of the vegetable garden is the flowers. Most alternating vegetable beds are planted with flowers. In addition to being a beauty for the garden, flowers are an ideal place for insects to live and lure insects over instead of vegetables. Up to now, the vegetables grown in Thanh Dong garden are all monitored and certified annually by PGS Hoi An, attracting hundreds of customers who are staff, teachers and local people continuously. order organic vegetables here. In addition, restaurants in Hoi An City, Da Nang have come to order vegetables, but due to insufficient vegetables, farmers in this period only sold products in the area of Hoi An City. Currently, PGS Hoi An, with the logo and brand name of the system attached to each bunch of vegetables brought to the market, is gradually becoming familiar to the people of Hoi An when choosing really quality products for each meal of the family. Thanh Dong organic production group, an important factor in the PGS system that is changing day by day is now a destination for tours, for students of universities and high schools in Hoi An and Da Nang. learn and share knowledge about organic farming. Only 6 months after the establishment of Thanh Dong organic production group, there were 897 visits of visitors, of which 758 were students coming to study, 34 students came to research, 41 visitors came to experience. and 64 tourists, including 22 foreigners. By 2018, the garden has welcomed 134 delegations with more than 700 people visiting and studying. The group’s average income from vegetable production reached 365 million in 2018, excluding income from providing tours.

It can be said that PGS Hoi An has just formed many difficulties, but it has made the producers change significantly in awareness and community relationships become closer and closer. Although still on a small scale, PGS Hoi An is spreading its influence on the City community. The increasing demand for organic products is demanding production expansion. From the first Thanh Dong vegetable garden with only 8 farmers with an area of 6000 m2, up to now the area of the expanded group is 11,000 m2. The story of Thanh Dong has helped leaders of Hoi An city confidently expand the area to other communes such as Cam Kim, Cam Chau with the orientation of more diverse products such as bananas, strawberries in addition to vegetable products. Farmers’ income now comes not only from organic vegetables but also from tourism. Currently, in addition to the area of 11,968 m2, certified PGS by Thanh Dong garden group, Cam Thanh commune, and Mrs. Dong’s garden, Cam Chau commune, the whole city has an additional 2 hectares which are in transition. With the efforts of farmers, specific support policies of the government, and a potential market of Hoi An, in the near future, Hoi An will become a safe city with clean food and completely environment friendly.